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Dept. of Energy Awards More Than $30 Million For Advanced Battery Research

The U.S. Energy Department said Wednesday it is awarding a $45 million package of grants supporting advanced vehicle technologies. The package includes $22.5 million for advanced battery research, and another $8 million for power electronics research. The grants aim to cut vehicle battery size and weight in half, thereby reducing plug-in hybrid and electric car prices.

Reducing the upfront sticker price would encourage more consumers to purchase a battery-powered vehicle. EVs and plug-in hybrids already have a lower operational cost because electricity/a> a more efficient fuel than gasoline or diesel.

Higher energy density batteries—determined by kilowatt-hours per kilogram—will allow automakers to either offer the same kilowatt-hour capacity in a smaller battery, or offer more kilowatt-hour capacity (and therefore driving range) in the same battery size. For example, GM’s CEO Dan Akerson has spoken several times in the past year about the prospects of longer range electric cars and a reduced price for the Chevy Volt), steps that would require battery packs that are bigger, cheaper or both.

Grants to Argonne National Labs, Farasis Energy and Envia Systems are aiming to achieve those same goals. Envia Systems made a splash early in 2012 claiming to have developed technology, licensed from Argonne Labs, that would enable twice the energy density at one-fourth the cost.
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